Best Bets: East Bay Open Studios, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and more

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir returns to the Paramount Theatre in Oakland to perform its annual holiday concert on Dec. 2. (Courtesy Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir)

Freebie of the week: The Bay Area has such a staggeringly rich community of artists working in varied media that it can be a little overwhelming getting a handle on what’s out there. Sometimes, it’s easier to go where the artists are.

That’s the idea behind the East Bay Open Studios this weekend. For nearly 50 years, the twice-annual event organized by Oakland Art Murmur has brought art appreciators in touch with artists in Alameda and Contra Costa counties with a design-your-own-tour format. The format is easy: Go to the EBOS website,, and check out the directory of 179 participating artists and their studios. The site also has a rundown of several events and receptions involving artists and organizers.

Open Studios runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and Dec. 3. Taking a tour is free. Of course, lots of works of all types will be for sale. 

OIGS and the Paramount – together again: It’s been three years since the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir brought its annual holiday concert to its home base, of sorts, the gorgeous Paramount Theatre. Fortunately, that hiatus ends this weekend.

The choir’s long-held tradition of performing at the art deco theater is justifiably one of the Bay Area’s finest holiday treats. Terrance Kelly – a Bay Area treasure in his own right – founded the chorus 38 years ago to perform and preserve Black gospel and spiritual music and to promote unity and compassion among people from all walks of life. Singers from all backgrounds are welcomed in the group and its family of youth and community choirs.

The Interfaith Gospel Choir performs at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Paramount, 2525 Broadway, in a program titled “Living in Harmony.” ABC7 News Bay Area anchor Kumasi Aaron will host; guest artists include singers/evangelists Jackie Tolbert and Rev. Reginal Finley. And Sherry Hicks and Michael Velez – aka the popular American Sign Language interpreters/performance duo Half-N-Half – will be on hand as well.

Tickets are $15-$80, with a limited number of VIP tickets at $100 still available. Go to 

Members of the Akram Khan Company perform a climate-change-themed retelling of “The Jungle Book.” The show comes to Stanford University this weekend. (Courtesy Akram Khan Company)

Rudyard Kipling vs. global warming: Given that he wrote “The Jungle Book” nearly 130 years ago, Rudyard Kipling can be forgiven for not anticipating the ravages of climate change in his stories about a boy being raised by wolves in an Indian jungle. (Heck, some people still aren’t recognizing climate change). But a new adaptation of the classic stories making the rounds brings to bear 21st-century climate patterns and the drastic impact they are having on our world.

“Jungle Book Reimagined,” a touring show stopping at Stanford University Saturday and Sunday, posits the stories’ protagonist Mowgli as a climate-change orphan and refugee whose family has been lost to a natural disaster and who finds himself in the ruins of a battered city, where he befriends a group of resourceful animals who have weathered the catastrophe.

The work was designed by Akram Khan, a London-based, Kathak dance-trained choreographer and storyteller. Blending a variety of dance genres, theater and high-tech videos and imagery, Khan and his dance-theater company serve up a contemporary retelling of the “Jungle Book” story.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Stanford’s Memorial Auditorium, in a presentation by Stanford Live. Tickets are $15-$95; go to

The San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows are featured in “The Future Is Now” concert at the Herbst Theatre on Saturday night. (Courtesy Kristen Loken)

Those admirable Adlers: The San Francisco Opera is about to put the cap on the company’s fall season (events resume in summer with three more operas, beginning with Mozart’s “The Magic Flute), and one of the bowing-out-for-now productions is Saturday night’s “The Future Is Now” concert, a showcase for the 2023 class of Adler Fellows.

Gathering onstage at the Herbst Theatre at 7:30 p.m., the three sopranos, two mezzo-sopranos, three tenors, one bass-baritone and two pianists (the current members of the prestigious apprenticeship program) will perform arias and scenes from operatic works by Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, Massenet, Carlisle Floyd and more. One possible crowd pleaser could be tenor Moisés Salazar’s rendition of Puccini’s “Nessun dorma,” the signature piece for the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, but there doubtless will be many highlights throughout the evening. Conductor Ramón Tebar leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in accompaniment.

Find tickets, $34-$69, at or call (415) 864-3330. 

Soprano Nicole Heaston has the title role, and a bit more, in Philharmonia Baroque’s production of “Dido’s Ghost.” (Courtesy Nicole Heaston)

She’s baaaack: You just can’t keep a good seductress down. Some 300 years after her appearance as the tragic heroine character in Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido & Aeneas,” we now have “Dido’s Ghost” haunting the stage at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

It comes courtesy of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale and composer Errollyn Wallen, who has centered the original work as an opera-within-an opera and encased it in her own enhancement of the story. The so-called sequel, which premiered in London and Edinburgh two years ago, has Dido’s sister Anna landing shipwrecked on Aeneas’ island, and they wind up resurrecting the original opera in his palace.

Composer Wallen has added a widely divergent blend of musical styles to Purcell’s Baroque score, prompting a rave reviewer from The Scotsman to remark “Wallen wraps Purcell’s original music within a blanket of modernism … an intoxicating cocktail.” Soprano Nicole Heaston stars as Dido/Anna, joining a cast from the British world premiere: bass-baritone Matthew Brook as Aeneas, soprano Nardus Wiliams as Belinda and mezzo-soprano Allison Cook as Lavinia. John Butt directs the orchestra and chorus.

Tickets are $30 to $100 at but only an amazing $9 for those under 30 at the door. Meanwhile, Phil Baroque will mount two performances of the original “Dido & Aeneas” only at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First Congregational Church in Berkeley. Tickets for those performances are $9-$100 on the website. 

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